Submission To Queensland Law Reform Commission Review Of Termination Of Pregnancy Laws 2018

SUBMISSION TO QUEENSLAND LAW REFORM COMMISSIONSUBMISSION TO QUEENSLAND LAW REFORM COMMISSION REVIEW OF TERMINATION OF PREGNANCY LAWS

by Cherish Life Queensland

13 February, 2018

Download as a PDF here.

 

Contents

Submission to Queensland Law Reform Commission Review of Termination of Pregnancy laws

Preamble

Q1: Who should be permitted to perform or assist in performing terminations?

Q2: Should a woman be criminally responsible for the termination of her own pregnancy?

Q3 & 4: Should there be a gestational limit or limits for a lawful termination of pregnancy?

Q5: Should there be a specific ground or grounds for a lawful termination of pregnancy?

Q 6: Specific ground, or grounds for an abortion

Q 7: The different stages of pregnancy

Q8 & 9: Should a medical practitioner be required to consult with one or more others (such as another medical practitioner or health practitioner) or refer to a committee before performing a termination of pregnancy?

Q.10: When should the requirement apply?

Q11: Should there be a provision for conscientious objection?

Q12 (a): Are there any circumstances in which the provision should not apply, such as an emergency or the absence of another practitioner or termination of pregnancy service within a reasonable geographic proximity?

12(b): Should a health practitioner who has a conscientious objection be obliged to refer or direct a woman to another practitioner or termination of pregnancy service?

Q 13: Should there be any requirements in relation to offering counselling for the woman?

Q 14: Should it be unlawful to harass, intimidate or obstruct women or clinic workers?

Q 15: Should there be provision for safe access zones in the area around premises where termination of pregnancy services are provided?

Q 16 (a): Should the provision automatically establish an area around the premises as a safe access zone? If so, what should the area be?

Q 16 (b): Should the provision empower the responsible Minister to make a declaration establishing the area of each safe access zone? If so, what criteria should the Minister be required to apply when making the declaration?

Q 17: What behaviours should be prohibited

Q 18: Should the prohibition on behaviours in a safe access zone apply only during a particular time period?

Q 19: Should it be an offence to make or publish a recording of another person entering or leaving, or trying to enter or leave, premises where termination of pregnancy services are performed, unless the recorded person has given their consent?

Q 20: Should there be mandatory reporting of anonymised data about terminations of pregnancy?

Conclusion

General Information

References

 

Preamble

Cherish Life Queensland welcomes every opportunity given us to promote a culture of life, as we believe that it is only when we respect the dignity of every human being in our society, including the unborn, that we live in a just society. We therefore thank you for the opportunity to respond to the questions put by the QLRC in the Review of Termination of Pregnancy Laws Consultation Paper.

The following statements serve as an introduction to our philosophical position and provide the reference point for our responses.

Cherish Life Queensland has always maintained that all human life, born and unborn, deserve the full protection of the law. This is at least notionally observed by the inclusion of abortion in the Criminal Code. Because the unborn child is not recognized as a “person capable of being killed” under this Code until he/she is born (S. 292), there are limitations to the protection offered by it. However, to remove abortion from the Criminal Code altogether deprives the unborn child of any legal recognition whatsoever. Abortion is not and never will be just another medical procedure because there is no other medical procedure that has as its immediate and only purpose the killing of another human being.

The main purpose of the law is to regulate and control unwanted behaviour to make society more just, less violent and more protective of innocent life and property. Martin Luther King said, “it may be true that the law cannot change the heart, but it can restrain the heartless”. Laws have an educative value as well. The damage to people’s health is, at least partly, responsible for changes in laws governing smoking, wearing seatbelts and safety helmets, and in turn have changed people’s behaviour for the better.

Historically, our laws pertaining to abortion were derived from English law and reflected its Judeo-Christian heritage. This was at a time when much less was known about life before birth, still less able to visualise it through methods such as ultrasound. Some of the Sections, specifically 224, 225 and 226 are couched in terms of this ambiguity, using the phrase “whether she is or is not with child” in each section.

This review of the Criminal Code should provide the opportunity to amend the law to reflect the better knowledge we have, and to remove artificial distinctions between “person” and “unborn child”. However, if the result of this review is to remove any reference to abortion at all in the Criminal Code, it will be a very regressive step in view of the science that is there to inform it.

One of the rationalisations for removing abortion from the Criminal Code is to provide a more “modern” law for this state.

What is meant by this term depends upon what side of the ideological fence one stands on this issue. For those who seek to defend unborn human life, it does not matter what century one lives in as truth is always truth and does not change with time.

If by “modern”, we mean being informed by the scientific facts of the issue, then our era is much better informed by the science of embryology and foetology than our forebears. Ultrasound, 3D, and 4D imaging shows very clearly the humanity of the child growing within his or her mother’s womb. This can no longer be ignored.

There is also a considerable and growing burden of documentation from professional bodies and individual researchers on the damage done to women by abortion. Some of this evidence was presented in the written and oral submissions to the parliamentary committee, and will not be repeated here unless necessary to illustrate another point.

Since the McGuire ruling in 1986, the Criminal Code under S. 282 has provided a defence for abortion for serious physical or mental health reasons. This law is not observed and we have consistently represented to successive governments since that time that most abortions are done for far less serious reasons. This is as good as acknowledged by representations from the abortion lobby to the Parliamentary Committee in which they admitted to concocting mental health reasons to get around the law. If abortion were removed from the Criminal Code, how would this will result in a more transparent and honest observance of what regulations are left?

Conclusion

We are surprised to be addressing the issue of abortion so soon after the two Pyne abortion law reform bills were withdrawn from the Queensland Parliament in February of 2017 – just one year ago. During the long investigative process of the Queensland Parliament committee system in examining these bills, the people of Queensland clearly let our politicians know that they did not want abortion law reform. This was evidenced when:

  1. The Parliamentary Health, Communities, Disability Services and Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Committee, which was charged with reviewing these two bills, received 2,725 submissions. Of these, 85% were against change, 11% were in favour of reform and 4% of the responses were inconclusive.

  2. 55,604 Queenslanders signed the two Queensland Parliament e-petitions against abortion law reform.

  3. Over 4,000 Queenslanders came out on a 37-degree heat on 11 February 2017 to march against abortion that is laws that are more permissive. It might be noted that this was after local radio stations were advising their listeners to stay indoors to avoid the excessive heat. It was not a day for the faint-hearted.

  4. Many thousands of Queenslanders wrote to their local Members of Parliament, the Premier of Queensland, Annastacia Palaszczuk, and to the then LNP Leader, Tim Nicholls, making their opposition clear.

In Australia as a nation and in Queensland as a state, we expect democracy to reign. The question then begs: Whose agenda is it? Which ideologues are driving this push to harm the women of Queensland and deny our unborn their human right to life?

It is the hope of Cherish Life Queensland that the QLRC will exercise its duty to modernise abortion law in such a way so as to respect the wishes of the Queensland people to maintain the laws on abortion, at least partly, within the Criminal Code.

Abortion is certainly a grave action and one that cannot be reversed. Capital punishment was abolished because it was recognised that if it should be discovered later that an innocent person was sent to the gallows there was no retrieval, that life was lost. Many women regret their abortions and as with capital punishment, there is no reversal, that unborn child’s life cannot be retrieved. Please proceed with utmost caution.

 

Q1: Who should be permitted to perform or assist in performing terminations?

In our submissions to the Parliamentary Committee, we stated that only duly qualified medical practitioners should be permitted to perform abortion (Thomas, 2016; Purcell, 2016). However, we also believe that there should be as little abortion as possible, since it is not the philosophy of medicine that doctors should be asked or expected to be killers as well as healers.

In modern obstetrics, there are two patients - mother and unborn child. Doctors - whether involved closely or more distantly with the health service delivered to pregnant women - should be free to treat both parties in their mutual best interests. It is not normally physical health issues that result in pressure being put to bear on a woman to consider abortion, but what is generally referred to as socio-economic’ considerations. This is not therefore a medical issue per se, and performing an abortion will not correct it, but doctors are expected to subjugate their own principles to societal expectations and provide a band-aid solution for what is a social problem.

 

Q2: Should a woman be criminally responsible for the termination of her own pregnancy?

We do not support the removal of Sections 224-226.

The fact is that no woman has been convicted or penalized for an illegal abortion in the 117 years that the law has been in existence. This is because prosecutions of illegal abortion depend on the testimony of the woman involved, who is given indemnity.

However, if these sections are removed, we believe that in the case of a woman performing an abortion on herself or with the aid of a person other than a qualified doctor, this should still be illegal because not only is the woman causing the death of her unborn child, but she is acting in a way that could cause herself physical harm or death, and this action needs to be discouraged strongly by the law. Equally, any other person involved in the action also should be penalised.

 

Q3 & 4: Should there be a gestational limit or limits for a lawful termination of pregnancy?

In keeping with our introductory statement, we do not believe that it is legitimate for abortion to be performed at any time in pregnancy, and that is because we hold that the first right in order of priority, is the right to life of the unborn human being. Most abortions performed in any state or territory in Australia are done within the first trimester (twelve weeks), and because of this abortions in the first trimester are sometimes seen as an “early” or “safe” time to have an abortion and by implication this has made it acceptable or routine.

In the vast majority of cases, the mother is physically and mentally well and her life or safety are not threatened by the continuation of pregnancy. For various reasons, motherhood is being rejected at this time in the woman’s life; the reasons vary greatly in seriousness from inconvenient conceptions to women suffering great duress from others to abort. We are not insensitive to this, but abortion will not solve many of the issues, and may well add more of its own to the burden suffered by women.

If the two parties to the abortion decision- mother and foetus- were mother and baby, or even two other people already born, and one party was demanding the other party’s death so that her perceived interests were served thereby, the law would have no hesitation in condemning this proposal as unjust. When it comes to laws pertaining to abortion however, there is consistent pressure to waive any rights the unborn may enjoy in favour of laws that are more permissive. It is a sad irony that, when less was known about human foetal development, more protection and worth was accorded him/her, but in our so-called enlightened times, when so much more is known, so little protection is afforded!

Many references are provided in the consultation paper from various UN documents in support of a wide access to abortion as being part of women’s autonomy and reproductive rights. This is to be expected because the UN agenda for women’s health has long been captured by the proponents of radical feminism.

However, these documents contradict the aspirations contained in previous UN documents specifically the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. There is a stated obligation to safeguard and provide legal protection to the child, before and after birth.

We do not accept the contention that abortion is an issue solely confined to a woman and her doctor. Women may have other children, have a spouse or partner who does or doesn’t know about her being troubled by pregnancy, but may well have a sincere interest in assisting her, and has concern that her physical and /or mental health may be adversely affected by an abortion. Pregnant women actually require support through pregnancy, and are not served well by the dictum that confines the issue to being about “reproductive rights.”

There are several objections to treating abortion purely as a “life and health matter” with no time limits i.e. abortion on request. When not confined to ‘life or death” matters, this category has a very wide application in practice, and comes to mean just about any reason. It would allow for abortion at any stage of gestation theoretically up until the time of birth, depending upon the ‘comfort zone’ of the abortionist and despite any convictions of ancillary staff. Community acceptance of abortion diminishes with the later stages of abortion (1) and the reasons for why it is being performed; this will adversely affect staff as well as the general public.

Here are some findings on the reasons for abortion performed in jurisdictions where there are unrestricted time frames. According to The Age newspaper 7/10/2010, staff at the Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne were trying to cope with a six-fold increase in late-term abortions two years after the Victorian laws changed in 2008.

Further to this, the report by the Victorian Consultative Council on Obstetric and

Paediatric mortality (2010-11) (covering the time since 2008) showed:

  1. Of 366 later-term abortions in 2010, 191 were for psychosocial reasons, and in 2011 out of 378 abortions,183 were on the same grounds

  2. In 2010, 184 of 191 abortions were done between 20-27 weeks and 10 between 28-31 weeks

  3. In 2011, 172 of the 183 abortions were done between 20-27 weeks and 10 between 28-31 weeks

  4. It further reported that 24 babies were born alive in 2010, and 40 in 2011

Later statistics provided by this committee show the same trends, with 53 being born alive in 2012 and 43 in 2013. (Swartz, 2010)

These statistics demonstrate two points. Firstly, about half of these abortions were performed on healthy babies for “psychosocial” (also called socio-economic) reasons, and secondly, counter to the usual claims that abortion rates will not increase with greater legal availability, abortions do increase with increasing legal availability. Thus, when there are no limits to when abortion is done, the same general scope of reasons apply for those done at late-term as for earlier gestational periods. The general impression given that late-term abortions are all done for serious if not fatal physical abnormalities is not correct.

We do not support later age limits such as before or after “age of viability”, generally considered to be 23-26 weeks, because all are equally arbitrary, do not consider the increasing maturity and sensate ability of the unborn child and would permit barbaric methods of achieving the purpose of killing them. This includes injecting the foetal heart with potassium chloride, dismembering, and so called partial birth abortion where the unborn child’s brains are sucked out to deflate the skull prior to pulling the body out.

There have been numerous cases of unborn babies left to die after an abortion. The example quoted above from Victoria is one. Also, closer to home, in Queensland, in a Question on Notice, asked by Mark Robinson MP to Minister for Health Hon. R. Dick, it was revealed that between 2005-2015, 204 babies aged 20 or more weeks gestation were born alive after an abortion

procedure (Queensland Government, 2016). In addition, this is before any change to laws that may make this event more frequent! These babies would be left to succumb. This also demonstrates that ‘viability’ is variable, depending upon the strength and maturity of the unborn child at that time. The minister did not give the reasons why these abortions were performed.

If indeed the baby has reached the age of viability, and a medical or genuine psychiatric condition is causing the mother insurmountable difficulties, the birth can be induced relatively safely, thus sparing the child and allowing the mother to be treated. There does not have to be a choice between mother’s or baby’s life if both can be saved.

There is also a strong tendency that when a law allows for the increased practice of abortion, society becomes increasingly insensitive to the consequences of its own laws. For example, despite there being clear documentation of increasing numbers of infants being born alive due to abortion in Victoria in the aftermath of its 2008 law changes, legislative changes designed to prevent this occurring through the adoption of the Infant Viability Bill 2015 failed conclusively. Society becomes inured to the violence of abortion and will resist measures taken to reduce it.

A YouGov Galaxy opinion poll of 1,001 Queensland voters, commissioned by the Australian Family Association and Abortion Rethink, was conducted just this month (February, 2018) to determine the views of the Queensland community on abortion.

In answer to the question “Up to what stage of pregnancy would you allow abortion?”, 60 percent of voters in Queensland do NOT support abortion after 13 weeks. This includes 39% that would allow abortion only up to 13 weeks and 21% opposed to abortion at any time. The poll showed that 74% of Queenslanders are opposed to abortion after 23 weeks.

In answer to the question “At 23 weeks of pregnancy, an unborn baby has a reasonable chance of survival outside the womb. Do you believe that at that time an unborn baby is a person with human rights?”, 62 percent answered in the affirmative.

 

Q5: Should there be a specific ground or grounds for a lawful termination of pregnancy?

No. In keeping with what has already been said, we do not support expanding the definition of specific circumstances in which abortion would always be legal, or be legal at certain gestational limits.

Of course, in the case of a genuine serious risk to a woman’s physical life, all means should be taken to help preserve the life of both mother and child. The current Criminal Code has always had a provision to allow for abortion under these circumstances, and it was widened by the McGuire ruling to include serious risk to physical or mental health. Genuine reasons for either are not commonplace.

Other suggested grounds such as economic or social circumstances, are very subjective and open to interpretation. Once a ground for abortion is established in the law, all requests for abortion will fall into those categories, to the point that distinctions will become meaningless, and abortion on request prevails. Inconvenient conceptions, interruptions to study or career opportunities, feeling not ready to be a parent yet are all much repeated reasons in other states or countries where this is recorded.

However, there is nothing new in those situations that could not be thought of as part of life itself. Problems will still exist after abortion with the added burden of any physical or mental sequelae from abortion that may well be worse than the pregnancy itself. Counselling is extremely important here to allow people to calmly look through other options, get information on what harm abortion itself can do (not much if anything of this is known to the average person) and not to feel pressured into acting immediately. Family are often willing to come to their aid, circumstances can change a lot in nine months, and a decision to abort can mean a lifetime of regret.

There was never any objective standard in place whereby the McGuire ruling would be shown or proven to be adhered to.

Whatever may have been intended, it is clear that the current situation, especially in private abortion clinics, is that abortion will be done for almost any woman presenting herself. There is little if any evidence available that relevant legalities are observed, and no surveillance to ensure this occurs. Considering that the initial event that sparked the R. vs Bayliss and Cullen case concerned a woman that almost lost her life through the abortion, any ground/s must be measured against the risk of abortion itself to the physical and mental health of the woman (Supreme Court Library Queensland,1986).

As regards to rape and other coerced or unlawful acts, there should be a distinction made between rape where the woman is unrelated to or unknown to the perpetrator, and a domestic situation where the resultant child may be the child of the offender. Violent domestic relationships are not going to be solved or improved upon by access to another form of violence upon the woman that abortion represents.

From an evidentiary point of view, it will be extremely difficult to prove or ensure that a conception was the result of a rape. What evidence would the woman have to demonstrate? Would she need to report the rape to ensure she could access abortion? How long after the rape could she access abortion? What if the pregnancy pre-existed the rape? How is that to be proved or disproved?

Referring to page 46 of the Consultation Paper, there is a quotation from submission 839 to the parliamentary committee referring to sexual violence, incest and rape. There are two aspects to this paragraph that we wish to respond to as there is the inference that abortion is necessary to help repair the damage done to bodily integrity by the assault. This is reproduced below for easy reference, and says:

Sexual violence, incest and rape are violations of a person’s bodily integrity, leading many survivors to feel out of control and powerless. One of the most significant steps towards healing from sexual violence is regaining agency and control, particularly over one’s body. Thus, no or limited access to pregnancy termination compounds the trauma and powerlessness survivors are already experiencing.” (Maloof, 1979)

Firstly, each of these types of assaults has its particular circumstances. Sexual assault may be to minors and abortion can be used to cover up pregnancy resulting from that, thereby not only concealing a crime, but allowing to situation to be perpetuated through secrecy. Similarly, abortion plays a part in the abuse and control of women and girls who are being trafficked not only in “sex slavery” but those exploited in other labour e.g. servants. Forced abortion is common among those trafficked into prostitution, often provided by poorly trained practitioners (Makhorn, 2015). Legalising abortion in these circumstances only serves the interest of the oppressors.

Interpersonal violence (IPV) is a strong risk factor for abortion the world over. Nevertheless, women experiencing IPV are at an increased risk of suicidal ideation if they have a history of perinatal loss including abortion (Ibid). There is also an association between child sexual abuse, teenage dating violence and adult IPV. In short, women who live in these circumstances know no other pattern of life or relationships, which is the core issue, and abortion isn’t going to change that.

Incest is a complex familial problem, and often enough, pregnancy may be the means by which it comes to the attention of authorities, whereas abortion, if provided, will cover it up. The pressure for an abortion likewise usually comes from the offending adult, not the girl or woman. (Ibid.)

It is generally presumed that no woman would wish to keep the child who is the product of rape, but that isn’t the case. In a study conducted by Dr. Sandra Makhorn, an experienced rape counsellor, and published in 1979, she reported that of 37 pregnant rape victims, 28 continued with the pregnancy, five had an abortion and for the other four, the outcome was not known. She found it was often the expectation of others, or fears and myths associated with rape victims in general which affected the women more than being pregnant, and that with time and support, they came to see the pregnancy per se in a different light (Ibid.).

This area is too complex and extensive to be covered properly here; these comments are included to show that abortion, far from being important to assist women in these situations, may act to conceal their plight, as well as a crime.

Further, there are anecdotal stories that support the view that abortion of a child conceived in rape simply adds to the abuse of the woman - it re-victimises her.

Regarding foetal abnormality, we do not believe that disability, whether major or minor, is a reason to have an abortion. It implies that an abnormality makes those children less worthy of life and is reminiscent of eugenics. It militates against other unborn children with disability and their families from being treated fairly. Many people have reported that after prenatal testing had uncovered a disability, they were put under pressure to have an abortion, being told that they are selfish in wanting to keep their child, or that it will be too burdensome for them and/or their child to continue supporting life.

There has been a revolution in prenatal diagnosis for foetal abnormality over the last two decades with increasingly sophisticated testing. In particular, Down Syndrome is so marked for detection that many fewer babies are born with that condition than in previous times, and this is a real example of eugenics being practised in our midst.

In some states at least and for doctors in general, there is a presumption or expectation that they should offer abortion, and not to do so may be viewed as poor medical practice. In this way, abortion for foetal handicap becomes acceptable medical practice and an expectation of parents by others.

Australian comedian Hannah Boland shares her family story about how at 20 weeks-gestation it was discovered that their son had a brain abnormality called alobar holoprosencephaly. Abortion was offered but they continued with the pregnancy giving birth to their son Stephen at 34-35 weeks, and he lived for 47 hours. She says: “Having to fight medical practitioners to value the life of our son as much as we did added enormous grief on top of the grief we were already experiencing. In the end we felt so blessed to have had those 47 hours with our son.” (Boland, 2013)

This “option” to abort a child discovered with an abnormality is offered to women who are not aware that that is the main purpose of prenatal diagnosis- they just go along with the routine of pregnancy testing because it is expected of them.

They may not ever have bothered with testing if they realized they could be offered the “solution” of abortion. Women should be informed of this before any testing begins.

If one accepts that foetal abnormality as such should be grounds for abortion, who then decides what degree and type of abnormality is sufficient grounds for abortion? Some conditions are remediable after birth by surgery but will require major surgery and be a significant burden on the child and family for a time. Yet many families have had this experience and their child has gone on to enjoy a productive life. The adoption of an attitude that a life with disability is not worth living is not a sign of a compassionate society.

In Queensland, late-term abortion by induction of labour is permitted on babies with gross or lethal abnormalities, and is performed only in certain public hospitals. Although this is unlikely to change substantially because of this review, we would like to present the matter in a different light.

The concept of Perinatal Palliative Care is an alternative to offering abortion. It is a system of interdisciplinary care to “prevent and relieve infant suffering and improve the conditions of the infant’s living and dying. It is a team approach to relieving physical, psychological, social, emotional and spiritual suffering of the dying infant and the family when a diagnosis of a life limiting condition is made in the child during pregnancy” (Maternity and Neonatal, 2013). It provides the family an alternative to abortion, and one that offers support all the way through to birth and beyond until the natural death of the child as not all babies with life limiting conditions die through or immediately after labour.

In 2007, a study in the UK assessing the effect of prenatal palliative care, offered. 20 couples this as an alternative to abortion after a diagnosis of lethal foetal abnormality, with 8 couples or 40% accepting this alternative route. (Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, 2010). It is not clear from reading the Queensland Maternity and Neonatal Clinical Guidelines on Therapeutic Termination of Pregnancy if women and their families are offered or given any education on this alternative, which does exist at the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital and possibly could be accessed in some way outside of Brisbane.

 

Q 6: Specific ground, or grounds for an abortion

Cherish Life Queensland again wishes to point out that any and every abortion results in the loss of an unborn child’s life. Such a grave outcome cannot be justified except in a circumstance where there is a critical urgent risk to the life of the mother.

In such a circumstance and where the gestational age of the unborn child makes it possible that the child could exist outside the mother’s womb then an immediate c-section operation is recommended so that the baby is birthed. This is a faster and safer procedure for the mother whose life is in danger and it also saves the life of the unborn.

There is a trend to give weight to social, emotional, financial, relational and psychological factors as grounds for a termination of pregnancy and this is to be avoided. While any of these factors may cause distress to the mother we would assert that these factors cannot be allowed to outweigh the right to life of the unborn child. Further, having an abortion is very likely to not render the woman relief of her distress factors. If, for example, homelessness or relational breakdown with the father are cited as reason for the abortion then it is probable that those same conditions would still exist for her post the abortion.

In our current social climate there is a blindness to the option of adoption for women who feel unready or unable to parent their child. We understand that for many years closed adoption practices operated and they have left a stigma. Relinquishing mothers and adopted children had little ability to ever connect or know about the other. This is now recognised as harsh and such adoption practices no longer exist.

Our current adoption laws in Queensland are now far more open and the level of ongoing contact can be negotiated between the relinquishing mother and adoptive parents. Unfortunately adoption is still not accessed readily as it seems there remains a culture of discouraging this option among social workers.

Cherish Life Queensland recommends that we should assist expectant mothers who do not want to provide on-going parenting to explore the option of adoption. In this scenario the mother gifts her child to a couple on an adoption list and the life of the baby is spared. It would also be a welcome option for many infertile couples facing the arduous and expensive IVF trek.

 

Q 7: The different stages of pregnancy

A child is a separate entity with his or her unique DNA from the moment of conception. There is not a point along the 38 – 42 week gestational period that the child growing within the womb is transformed into a human being with the right to life. It is therefore a pointless exercise to try and determine an arbitrary point that separates when it is acceptable to take that unborn child’s life and when it is no longer acceptable. According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 an unborn child has the right to life and we have the duty to safeguard that right.

 

Q8 & 9: Should a medical practitioner be required to consult with one or more others (such as another medical practitioner or health practitioner) or refer to a committee before performing a termination of pregnancy?

We would like to reiterate at this point that we do not agree with abortion, and any comments provided here need to be read in that light. Where a woman’s life or health is seriously endangered, all due professional assistance needs to be provided, with the intention that mother and baby both be preserved from injury or death.

The purpose of consultation should be to apply the best possible evidence and best practice to the situation. This should be in the service of life, not to find reasons to end it. Whether that is best done by selecting the relevant professional advice or having a set panel of experts is a matter of debate. Committees can be hampered by process and become too influenced by peer pressure, favouritism and other political considerations.

In the current operation of the Queensland criminal code, only later-term abortions are subject to due process of consultation as that is the structure determined not by the Code itself but by governmental decisions. For most abortions performed in Queensland, there is no process of consultation because they are primarily performed by private businesses which are not required to consult.

One of the most deficient examples of legislation in this respect is that in Victoria where consultation is only required if an abortion will be done past the age of 24 weeks, in which case two practitioners are required to consult; however the second doctor does not have to sight the pregnant woman, or read her file and it can all occur over the phone. This is hardly adequate consultation.

Further, In Victoria there is no legal reason why two abortionists from the same or different facilities couldn’t consult with each other!

It is thus important that this situation not be allowed to exist, and any consultation be with a relevant specialist.

It is also worthwhile to consider in respect of the next section on conscientious objection, that should doctors be legally allowed to excuse themselves on the basis of a conscientious objection to abortion, then only doctors who are willing to perform or acquiesce to abortion will be entitled to be consulted or to be part of a committee. This will result in a non-objective situation with foregone conclusions.

In relation to the operation of the Queensland Clinical Guidelines, the process will only be as good as the information provided, and the personnel and their ethics. For example, in the guidelines, the advice given around psychological support and post-termination care (pages 13 and 22 respectively) are out of date and even contradictory (Queensland Health). They reveal an ignorance of the evidence supporting the harm to women’s psychological health from abortion.

 

Q.10: When should the requirement apply?

Much is made of “emergency” situations without the realisation that if a woman is in such a serious situation, she is in need of more, not less, professional assistance with all that implies. Consultation would be mandatory, not an optional extra or to be disregarded.

 

Q11: Should there be a provision for conscientious objection?

Yes. The right to conscientious objection not to be obliged to participate in or assist directly in abortion is upheld in those states that have legislated (Discussion paper pg. 58 (218)) and in Queensland there is currently no obligation to be involved in any abortion performed in the public system as per the Clinical Guidelines.

It is also generally upheld through various other means e.g. the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 18 that is cited in Appendix D of the Discussion Paper. In Australia however, no State or Territory has legislated to protect freedom of conscience in general for health practitioners and neither has the Commonwealth, despite being a signatory to this document.

Other bodies such as the NHMRC (in respect to involvement in IVF procedures) and the Medical Board of Australia have recognized the right to freedom of conscience e.g. in its code of conduct, it states in 2.4.6. that:

Being aware of your right to not provide or directly participate in treatments to which you conscientiously object, informing your patients and, if relevant, colleagues, of your objection, and not using your objection to impede access to treatments that are legal” (www.medicalboard.gov.au)

The World Medical Association in 2008 stated that:

The central element of professional autonomy and clinical independence is the assurance that individual physicians have the freedom to exercise professional judgement in the care and treatment of their patients without undue influence by outside parties or individuals.” (www.wma.net).

Whereas many see the justice in allowing this much freedom, there is disagreement as to how far that may extend. One expectation is that doctors defer to the patient as much as possible, even when it conflicts with their own conscience.

However, part of freedom of conscience is being free to give witness to what one believes; restricting it to when it can be exercised really means no freedom at all.

If abortion is totally against one’s conscience, to be involved in it in even a minor way such as providing a referral is being complicit in the act. Not every doctor or other medical personnel will take their opposition this far, but for those who believe it is killing another human being; it is completely in accord with their understanding of their duty. It can be reasonably compared with doctors being required to participate in state-authorised capital punishment.

 

Q12 (a): Are there any circumstances in which the provision should not apply, such as an emergency or the absence of another practitioner or termination of pregnancy service within a reasonable geographic proximity?

Conscientious objection should not extend to not coming to the assistance of a woman whose life is endangered, but as stated above, abortion isn’t necessarily the only way to preserve her life. Emergencies are normally handled in major or tertiary centres where there is access to specialist services. If a woman is seriously ill, performing an abortion is going to pose as many, if not more, risks as delivering the child by emergency caesarean section.

Fortunately, we live in a modern era where the choice between the mother and the child’s life is hardly ever necessary, so it would seem unnecessary to make a law to cover the rare cases.

The second half of this question can be answered easily by reference to an interview held on Radio National on 22/8/2017 in the Law Report by the compere Damien Carrick. One of the responders was Dr Caroline da Costa, a prominent pro-abortion advocate living in Cairns. She revealed that the current Queensland government, through Queensland Health is funding the flights of women from Far North Queensland to other places, inclding Sydney

because there was no doctor willing to perform a surgical abortion in Cairns. This situation had prevailed since September 2016 after the only doctor willing to perform them had retired. Dr da Costa described the (maternity and neonatal) guidelines as “playing lip service to the law.” She also described the situation in Townsville as:

there is a service which is provided fly in, fly out by the Marie Stopes organisation, and that is really always fully booked. I think that the Cairns people try to get Cairns women into Townsville but they don’t often succeed…. local doctors in Townsville, for example, are not performing abortions in the public system, so Townsville is really no different.

But they’ve got this service still where they’ve had a clinic for many years and that has continued, but it is now on a fly in, fly out basis …in a private system but I presume paid for by Queensland Health in the Marie Stopes Clinic.” (Carrick on Radio National, 2017)

So are we supposed to believe that, in accordance with the McGuire ruling, these are only seriously ill women who are being flown regularly to and from Sydney or other places, all at the expense of the taxpayer? It would seem a flagrant disregard of the law for the Queensland Government to be using facilities in another state to have abortions performed which quite likely do not conform to its own law.

So why should doctors who do not want to perform abortions under the current law (or a new one) be expected to do abortions just because they are geographically the only one available if the government itself will step in and provide a service?

Apart from being a violation of freedom of conscience, it will deter doctors from being willing to work in regional and rural areas if they will be obligated to do abortions.

 

12(b): Should a health practitioner who has a conscientious objection be obliged to refer or direct a woman to another practitioner or termination of pregnancy service?

No. This has been a very contentious area in Victoria since the Abortion Law Reform Act 2008 made it illegal for a doctor to refuse to refer a woman to another practitioner (Section 8).

The Australian Medical Association has stated that this Act

infringes the rights of doctors with a conscientious objection by inserting an active compulsion for a doctor to refer to another doctor who they know does not have a conscientious objection.” (Ibid.)

A referral is not simply a piece of paper. A doctor who conscientiously believes that abortion destroys another human being will feel bound not to refer on for an abortion as a referral is a recommendation that the procedure be done. It is also the doctor’s responsibility to be sure that, as far as possible, the referee is someone whose competence can be relied upon. In Queensland where most abortions are done in private clinics for profit by people whom the doctor wouldn’t know, and whose training and expertise is not known or may be substandard, the doctor has every reason not to refer.

In the YouGov Galaxy poll of 1,001 Queensland voters conducted this month (February 2018), the following question about conscientious objection was put:

Many doctors do not wish to perform or participate in abortion in any way, including having to direct a patient to another doctor or abortionist when they believe that is not in their patient’s best interests. Do you support or oppose conscientious objection provisions to allow doctors and nurses to opt out of performing or participating in abortions against their will?”

Two- thirds or 65% of respondents answered in the affirmative (Galaxy, 2018).

 

Q 13: Should there be any requirements in relation to offering counselling for the woman?

The current support services in Queensland for women who are considering terminating their pregnancy or who have already had an abortion are woefully inadequate.

There are many unwanted abortions where women have been pressured into an abortion by their parents, boyfriend, husband or partner, or by their financial or social circumstances. This causes deep regret, guilt and harm to these women.

To give you an appreciation of the serious physical and psychological harm done to many women by abortion, we have delivered 5 copies of the DVD of the award-winning film Hush to the QLRC as an appendix to this submission one for each member of the Commission.

We urge each member of the Commission to watch this balanced documentary, which has a pro-life producer but a pro-choice director, who is also the writer, researcher, interviewer and narrator. The film interviews experts and leaders on both sides of the debate, and lets the viewer make up his or her own mind.

The law on abortion should have safeguards for women and particularly be addressing a woman’s right to know.

According to the most recent comprehensive survey of Queensland voters on abortion, a YouGov Galaxy opinion poll of 1,001 Queensland voters conducted 6 to 8 February 2018, 90 percent of Queenslanders believe that when considering an abortion, a woman should receive free independent counselling from a source that has no financial interest in her decision, so that she can make a fully informed decision. (Ibid.)

The same study showed that 86% of Queenslanders believe that a woman considering abortion should receive information on the development of the unborn child, the nature of the procedure, the physical and psychological risks associated with abortion and the support available should she wish to continue with the pregnancy.

Referring doctors, counselling agencies and abortion providers should be required to provide accurate information to each woman in a prescribed written form, so she can properly consider it. Without this mandatory requirement, there can be no true informed consent across the board.

The YouGov Galaxy poll also found that 80% of Queenslanders believe there should be a cooling-off period of several days between making an appointment to have an abortion and the actual procedure, to ensure that the woman is certain of her decision.

In relation to counselling before an abortion, it is relevant to note that 92% of Queenslanders agree that a woman requesting an abortion always should be seen in person by a qualified doctor.

It is also pertinent that the Galaxy poll discovered that 26% of Queenslanders know at least one woman who has been pressured into having an abortion.

In connection with this issue of coercion, it is relevant to note that a study of 987 women seeking post-abortion counselling at crisis pregnancy centres in the US, which was recently published in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, found that 73.8% experienced at least subtle forms of pressure to terminate their pregnancies. Nearly 30% admitted they were afraid they would lose their partner if they failed to terminate their pregnancy.

The draft bill that the QLRC will recommend to the Queensland Government should include a requirement for mandatory independent counselling before abortion, including the provision of an informed consent booklet similar to the one provided to women seeking an abortion in the ACT between 1999 and 2002, which included information on the nature of the procedure, the physical and psychological risks of abortion, the development of the unborn child, alternatives to abortion and support agencies. We will provide you with a copy of this booklet.

Under this ACT law, there also was a mandatory cooling-off period of 72 hours or 3 days.

The requirements for the provision of an informed consent booklet and the cooling-off period co-existed in the ACT Health Act alongside the law in the Crimes Act under which an abortion was legal only if a doctor was satisfied that the woman’s life or physical or mental health was in serious danger from carrying on the pregnancy.

There are many unwanted abortions which mandatory independent informed consent counselling could prevent. Women often go into a private abortion clinic, which is operating for profit and are not properly or fully counselled. They are in effect sold an abortion.

It is of interest to note that the Sunday Mail in South Australia on 25 July 2004 reported a significant reduction in the number of abortions performed at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Adelaide.

In South Australia, the law is that there are no private abortion clinics; it is all done through public hospitals.

In 2003, the hospital changed its policy and made independent counselling by social workers mandatory and it led to a drop of 25% in the number of abortions at that hospital over the next 12 months.

We acknowledge that a number of professional and counselling organisations suggest that counselling may be unhelpful if the woman’s attendance is forced.

However, what if the woman’s attendance at the abortion clinic is forced by her parents, boyfriend, partner or husband? Good counselling at that point may save her from that situation.

Furthermore, considering the serious physical and psychological risks of abortion, and the harm that could be averted if women chose to continue with their pregnancies, the inconvenience a mandatory counselling session would cause to some would be outweighed by the benefit it would bring to other women who may not otherwise have sought counselling themselves.

An example of a European country that has legislated for these kinds of safeguards for women is Macedonia, where women seeking abortion must have mandatory counselling from a doctor, a psychologist and a social worker and then there is three-day cooling-off period if she wants to proceed.

The YouGov Galaxy research also showed that 90% of Queenslanders believe that abortion providers should be required to advise women prior to their abortions that they will provide free independent post-abortion counselling if requested.

It should be incumbent upon abortion providers to pay for the harm they cause to their patients by facilitating this independent counselling, which is required by women who experience mental effects ranging from guilt, sadness and regret to clinical mental health disorders that may only surface years later.

It is also about time that the Government funded pregnancy-counselling centres with a pro-life ethos, not just those that advocate for abortion. As well as giving the full range of information and alternatives to women contemplating abortion, pregnancy-counselling services such as Priceless Life also support women who need post-abortive counselling who would never go back to the abortion clinic or pro-abortion agency that recommended that course of action.

 

Q 14: Should it be unlawful to harass, intimidate or obstruct women or clinic workers?

Harassment, intimidation and obstruction of women and clinic workers is an extremely rare occurrence. The goal of those who stand in vigil outside abortion clinics is always to offer a sign of hope, an outstretched hand to a mother struggling with the prospect of aborting her unborn child. Family Life International Spokesman, Paul Hanrahan correctly points out that “it would be completely counterproductive for any of these people to harass, obstruct or intimidate anyone attending for abortion, as they are interested in speaking to them to offer assistance.”

There are already sufficient regulations under the Queensland Criminal Code such as laws relating to stalking, assault, public nuisance and breaches of peace to cover any unlikely, but possible altercation that might occur outside an abortion clinic. No further laws are required.

People who keep vigil outside abortion facilities are well-known among the community to be a peaceful presence offering women alternative options for their pregnancies, which, oftentimes due to the stress and desperation they feel, have not been considered (Coleman, et al, 2017). These street side workers are people motivated by compassion. Some have themselves felt the negative effects of abortion in their own lives. They are highly unlikely to obstruct a woman or clinic worker’s path, or even make physical contact with a woman or clinic worker. They are simply reaching out in kindness and love if needed. They should be allowed to continue in peace.

Those who coordinate groups to whom this question relates testify to their compassionate motivations:

We have helped individuals and groups around Australia and including in Queensland, who pray outside of abortion clinics and offer assistance to anyone attending who is interested. Over the last 20+, years we have helped thousands of mothers keep their babies and offered them ongoing support during and after their pregnancies.

The people who pray at abortion clinics are all volunteers and do so without any remuneration. Assistance is often provided from their own resources... Further, were it true that there are people who engage in obstruction, harassment or intimidation they would be removed by the Police and prosecuted... In fact, members of these groups are encouraged to notify the Police of their presence and peaceful intentions and ensure that no laws are broken during the prayer vigil. Individuals who operate on their own apart from these recognised groups are extremely rare.” ~ Paul Hanrahan, Family Life International

The 40 Days for Life Brisbane movement is based on peaceful, prayerful, non-confrontational vigil outside an abortion centre. After 10 years, the organisation has complied lawfully with all directions from the Queensland Police Service and the laws of the state. No person who has joined 40 Days for Life Brisbane has ever harassed, intimidated or obstructed any person entering the facility. Every person who attends the prayer vigil is required to both sign the “Statement of Peace” as to this effect and to comply with all lawful direction. As a result, [we] see no reason to change any existing laws in this regard. ~ Brendan Wong, 40 Days for Life Brisbane

As Hanrahan and Wong attest, their groups’ purpose in standing on public ground outside abortion facilities is demonstrably peaceful and compassionate. Hanrahan attests that his group has a positive working relationship with local police to whom they submit notice of their peaceful protest every time they organise to keep vigil, while all volunteers from Wong’s 40 Days for Life Brisbane are required to sign a Statement of Peace promising that they will be held accountable if they are not peaceful and compassionate when keeping vigil at an abortion facility. The police check up on these groups regularly and have the right to ask them to move on if their behaviour contains any element of harassment, intimidation or obstruction; however, they report they have never been asked to move on.

In view of the above, some questions must be asked: Where is the push to enforce ‘safe access zones’ coming from? Is it really from women who profess to have been ‘harassed’?

Or is it from clinic owners, who run a for-profit business and recognise that whenever groups congregate outside their clinics they lose customers. Since Forty Days for Life began operating in 2004, they report that 94 abortion facilities have closed in the 47 countries they have a presence in. We therefore assert that this push for safe access zones has more to do business protection than the safety of women and clinic workers.

 

Q 15: Should there be provision for safe access zones in the area around premises where termination of pregnancy services are provided?

No, there is no need for provision of safe access zones in the area around premises where abortion services are provided. As Brendan Wong states, 40 Days for Life Brisbane has for ten years “complied lawfully with all direction from the Queensland Police Service and the laws of the state”. Here it is important to note again that before becoming eligible to join 40 Days for Life Brisbane, all potential volunteers must sign an official ‘Statement of Peace’. Wong continues: “No person who has joined 40 Days for Life Brisbane has ever harassed, intimidated or obstructed any person entering the facility”. Due to the sizeable number of cases where women have openly credited people keeping vigil outside abortion facilities with helping them and saving their children’s’ lives, it can only be detrimental to public health to enforce ‘safe access zones’.

One such woman is Amnata, an African refugee who was told that she would be kicked out of her accommodation if she kept her third child. She said all she needed was help, and those outside an abortion facility gave her support, resources and found her new accommodation. She said what she encountered outside the clinic was “nothing like harassment - I was given a choice.”

Diamond and Theo, a couple who visited an abortion facility together, said that those keeping vigil outside the facility simply asked them if they would keep their baby if they had financial assistance, and what sort of help they might need. Asked if she felt harassed, Diamond vehemently denied this, saying: “We are grown-up adults. He can’t force me to do what I don’t want to do, but what he said made a lot of sense to me.”

Like the previous question, Q-15 also operates from an altogether ignorant premise of both the motivation and reality of groups who stand outside abortion facilities.

 

Q 16 (a): Should the provision automatically establish an area around the premises as a safe access zone? If so, what should the area be?

Cherish Life Queensland does not believe it is necessary for safe access zones to be automatically established as there are already sufficient regulations under the Queensland Criminal Code such as laws relating to stalking, assault, public nuisance and breaches of peace to cover any unlikely but possible altercation that might occur outside an abortion clinic. No further laws are required.

 

Q 16 (b): Should the provision empower the responsible Minister to make a declaration establishing the area of each safe access zone? If so, what criteria should the Minister be required to apply when making the declaration?

Cherish Life Queensland does not believe it is necessary for safe access zone legislation to be referred to the responsible Minister to make a declaration establishing the area of each safe access zone. There are already sufficient regulations under the Queensland Criminal Code such as laws relating to stalking, assault, public nuisance and breaches of peace to cover any unlikely but possible altercation that might occur outside an abortion clinic. No further laws are required.

 

Q 17: What behaviours should be prohibited

While Cherish Life Queensland is not in favour of ‘safe access zone’ legislation, we reiterate the earlier point that obstruction or purposely-aggressive physical contact with women or clinic workers should continue to be prohibited. We further reiterate the point that there are already sufficient laws in place under the Queensland Criminal Code to deal with any disruption that could occur. No further laws are necessary.

 

Q 18: Should the prohibition on behaviours in a safe access zone apply only during a particular time period?

Cherish Life Queensland does not endorse the legislation of safe access zones as there are already sufficient regulations under the Queensland Criminal Code such as laws relating to stalking, assault, public nuisance and breaches of peace to cover any unlikely, but possible altercation that might occur outside an abortion clinic. No further laws are required.

 

Q 19: Should it be an offence to make or publish a recording of another person entering or leaving, or trying to enter or leave, premises where termination of pregnancy vices are performed, unless the recorded person has given their consent?

Yes, it should be an offence to make public a recording of any person outside an abortion clinic. A 2017 study by Coleman, et al (19), found that 78.3% of post-abortive women admit to being coerced in some way into having their abortions. Bearing in mind therefore that there is a high likelihood that many of the women entering abortion facilities are already potentially victims of coercion could recording these situations further victimise them? We would not want to see these women further traumatised by publicly outing them. Neither would we want to give their partners, family members or co-workers the opportunity to blackmail them with such a private and sensitive matter.

Further, we know that many women deeply regret their abortions and feel shame. Coleman’s study shows that 66% of post-abortive women “knew in their hearts they were making a mistake when they underwent the abortion” (18). These women already carry great guilt and sadness as a result of their abortion. There can be nothing gained for them in having it recorded.

In conclusion, part of the respect and support due to women entering or exiting abortion facilities is to keep their identity private and therefore recording them without their consent should never be permitted by law.

 

Q 20: Should there be mandatory reporting of anonymised data about terminations of pregnancy?

Current data is statistically insignificant

Yes. We could expect that groups both for and against the “modernization” of abortion legislation are in favour of mandatory reporting of data. By medical standards, the loose estimates that currently constitute abortion data in Queensland are surely too unreliable to ascertain whether it is in the best interests of the public to change existing abortion legislation.

An attempt to record more accurate data than we currently hold was made in 2015 when two public health students in Queensland spent the year attempting to compile such information. Their project failed, however, concluding that “a statistically significant estimate [of how many abortions took place in Queensland] could not be made” (20). Without “a statistically significant estimate” of abortion data it would be irresponsible for the Queensland Government to pass permissive abortion legislation.

Abortion is not healthcare

If it is simple enough to report from both public and private hospitals how many babies are born in a year (50,000); how many hip and knee replacements are done in a year (4,000 and 5,000 respectively); and what percentage of the adult male population in Queensland are smokers (28%), surely it is not too much to expect accurate data on abortion.

Abortion is not just another form of healthcare like a hip or knee replacement. Abortion is a medical procedure with grave consequences. The life of an unborn human being is taken and there are also serious wide-ranging psychological, emotional and physiological issues that can erupt at any point later in a mother’s life.

The YouGov Galaxy study conducted this month (February 2018) showed that of the 1,001 Queenslanders polled, 76% accepted “that abortion can harm the mental and physical health of a woman” (21).

Meanwhile PhD candidate and founder of Real Choices Australia, Debbie Garratt, also explored this topic at her presentation to the Queensland Parliamentary Health Committee when it held public hearings into former Cairns MP Rob Pyne’s abortion bills in 2016:

There is clear and unequivocal evidence that up to 20% of women

suffer...serious and prolonged mental health adverse effects after abortion, including depression, anxiety and suicide...they often cope with these emotional issues with significant increases in alcohol and drug use (22)”

To show the harms that abortion does to women’s health, we will provide the Commission with a copy of the booklet, Really a Choice? published by Real Choices Australia, 2011; and Does Abortion Cause Mental Health Problems? a paper published in 2012 by Dr Priscilla Coleman, Professor of Human Development and Family Studies at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, for the World Expert Consortium for Abortion and Education.

The abortion - breast cancer (ABC) link

Denying or downplaying the real and well-documented psychological, emotional and physiological risks induced abortion poses to women’s reproductive health may better suit the ideology that believes abortion is a liberating, consequence-free procedure, but it is a lie that harms women. Like the tobacco-lung cancer link that was also denied in the presence of evidence, the psychological and physical risks such as the Abortion Breast Cancer (ABC) link may continue to be denied, for what appears to be ideological, political and economic reasons (23) . This denial has gone on for long enough and the introduction of mandated collection of anonymised data of the impact of abortion on women’s ongoing physical health is immediately required.

Breast surgical oncologist, Dr Angela Lanfranchi, writes: “There are now 56 studies that show a positive association between abortion and breast cancer, of which 35 are statistically significant” (23).

She further reported that there is real statistical data from USA, France, China, Japan and India that show that women have a 30% - 40% greater chance of getting breast cancer if they have had an abortion (Lanfranchi, et al., 2013, Lanfranchi & Fagan, 2014).

This link between Abortion and Breast Cancer (ABC) is significant enough for several states in America including Texas, Louisiana, Montana and New Hampshire to legislate that women be informed of their much greater risk of developing breast cancer before proceeding with an abortion. This is important information that a client of an abortion clinic should know about before she proceeds with an abortion.

While this ABC link has been established from analysing data from five major countries - USA, France, China, Japan and India - there is little known of its existence in Australia. One cannot however presume that Australian women would be immune from this serious consequence of abortion that has already been so well researched in other countries. For the sake of doing what is best for Queenslanders, much more accurate data is needed on this ABC link in Australia before proceeding with any abortion legislation.

Suggestions

Cherish Life Queensland suggests that a wide variety of data collection is required before Queensland considers changing our abortion laws. From the abortion clinics we need details including, but not limited to, the mother’s age, relationship status, socio-economic background, education, reason for opting to abort, and gestational age of the unborn child.

Cherish Life Queensland also recommends that Queensland needs data that relate to the psychological well-being of the patient before the abortion, and a month later, as many women report immediate regret, grief and loss. There should be a further assessment at say 2 years post abortion. This would serve two purposes. The aim in collecting this data that would rate the psychological well-being for pre and post-abortive women would identify the level of risk for women who have an abortion, and secondly it would identify those women not coping so they can be referred to appropriate mental health services.

It is understood that this data that from pre and post abortion counselling must come from independent counselling services. An abortion clinic with a vested interest in women having abortions could not also provide the counselling service.

It should also be mandatory for Counselling and Psychology Services to report anonymised details of cases where new patients presenting to their services are post-abortive and the condition for which they are being treated is relatable to the abortion. Ascertaining this data will allow our policy makers to have a far clearer picture of the complex situations that surround abortion.

In summary, we need to have a much clearer understanding of the psychological, social and physical ramifications of abortion so that we can better create the type of society where Queenslanders can flourish. The required data will show:

The supply and demand of abortion in Queensland

How many abortions happen in Queensland per annum Why they happen

At what stage of pregnancy they happen

Whether or not patients feel coerced by partners or parents Whether or not abortion masks domestic violence

Whether or not abortion increases or decreases mental health

Whether certain counselling agencies have a vested interest in patients opting to abort or not to abort.

Whether there is a link between abortion and breast cancer significant enough to demand government attention.

 

Conclusion

Finally, there is reliable data already available that proves beyond any doubt that abortion results in the death of an unborn human being. Every embryology and biology textbook and journal article we could find attests to the fact that at the moment of fertilisation, the zygote that comes into being has human DNA unique to her parents and is actively on a pathway to become an adult human being. After fertilisation, there is no significant biological development that suddenly makes an inhuman being into a human being; the being was always human and therefore she deserves human rights to protect her at her most vulnerable stages.

There is also reliable data already available that demonstrates that the ready availability of abortion is not a liberating factor for women and far more likely to lead to their victimisation. The most recent data collected by Dr Pricilla Coleman and published recently in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons in late 2017 showed that from a sample size of 987 women, 58.3% aborted to make others happy, 73.8% admitted that their decision to abort included some form of coercion, and 67.5% said that it was one of the hardest decisions of their lives. These are not responses typical to conventional forms of healthcare.

Further, the already-mentioned Galaxy poll (February 2018), which surveyed 1,001 Queenslanders, and found that 74% believe that abortion data needs to be recorded. Cherish Life Queensland concurs with this finding.

Cherish Life Queensland, however, has an even stronger position. We believe that before proceeding with any further legislation regarding abortion that the QLRC should recommend to the parliament a bill that requires anonymised details about the impact of abortion on women from a range of services. These services would need to include abortion facilities, obstetricians and gynaecologists, psychologists, counsellors and social workers.

Until the Government has collected and analysed this data, it should not proceed with any legislative change that could have gravely adverse outcomes not only for the women of Queensland, but for pre-born Queenslanders, who in being aborted are denied their right to life. This right to life of the unborn encoded in the united Nations Declaration of Human Rights (1948) recognizes the need for special safeguards and care, including legal protection before as well as after birth. How can we meet our UN obligations if abortion is decriminalised?

 

General Information

Cherish Life Queensland

Cherish Life Queensland’s details are as follows:

 

Item

   

Information

 
       
             
             

Name of entity:

 

Cherish Life Queensland Incorporated

         

Trading as:

 

Cherish Life Queensland

   
       

ABN:

45 107 294 619

   
           
       

Suite 5, Benson House,

PO Box 1382,

Address:

 

2 Benson Street,

Toowong BC, QLD 4066

       

Toowong, Queensland

   
             

Representation Details

Any queries in relation to this response should be directed to the following

Cherish Life Queensland representative:

 

Item

   

Information

 
       
           
           

Contact person:

 

Julie Borger,

       

President

       

Ph: 0412 692 343

       

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

           

 

References

  1. Queensland Criminal Code Act 1899. Section 292: www.legislation.qld.gov.au/view/pdf/2002-02-28/act-1899-009

  2.  www.abortionrethink.org

  3. Thomas, K. 2016. Cherish Life Queensland's submission to the Health, Communities, Disability Services and Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Committee on: The Health (Abortion Law Reform) Amendment Bill 2016, dated 6 October 2016. [PDF copy]; Purcell, D. 2016. Submission re Abortion Law Reform (Women's Right To Choose) Amendment Bill 2016

  4. Consultative Council on Obstetric and Paediatric mortality and Morbidity for 2010 and 2011

  5. “Aborted Babies being left to die” by Barney Swartz 7/10/2010 “The Age”

  6. Questions on notice No. 779 asked on 11/5/2016

  7.  

    Galaxy Abortion Study of 400 Queensland Voters, February 2018 commissioned by the Australian Family Association and Abortion Rethink: abortionrethink.org

  8. Pike, G. 2017. Abortion and Women’s Health, Adelaide Centre for Bioethics and Culture. p.9
  9. Ibid pg.8

  10. R v Bayliss & Cullen [1986] QDC 011 ; (1986) 9 Qld Lawyer Reps 8

  11.  McGuire DCJ. 22 January 1986. Supreme Court Library Queensland: www.sclqld.org.au/caselaw/QDC/1986/011

  12. Maloof, G. 1979. The Consequences of Incest: Giving and Taking Life. The Psychological Aspects of Abortion’ edited by David Mall and Walter Watts MD Univ. Publications of America Inc. In Submission 839 to the Parliamentary Committee on Sexual Violence, Incest and Rape

  13. Makhorn, S. 2015. Pregnancy and sexual Assault: International Journal on Women’s Health and Wellness. Vol. 1. Issue 1: clinmedjournals.org/articles/ijwhw/international-journal-of-womens-health-and-wellness-ijwhw-1-004.pdf

  14. Boland, H & Paterson, C. 2013. I’m Sad And I Need Cake: When real people write real letters about grief. Published by the authors.

  15. Tonti-Filippini, N. 2013. “About Bio-ethics. Motherhood, Embodied Love and Culture” Connor Court. pg. 61.

  16. Queensland Maternity and Neonatal Clinical Guideline Therapeutic termination of pregnancy 2013: www.health.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0018/140733/g-ttop.pdf

  17. Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, 2010. Termination of Pregnancy for Fetal Abnormality in England, Scotland and Wales: www.rcog.org.uk/globalassets/documents/guidelines/terminationpregnancyreport18may2 010.pdf

  18. Queensland Health: Queensland Clinical Guidelines: https://www.health.qld.gov.au/qcg

  19. Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency: www.medicalboard.gov.au/Codes-and-Guidelines.aspx

  20. World Medical Association. 2008: www.wma.net/news-press/press-releases/?year_filter=2008&order_by=1

  21. Carrick, D. 2017 Radio National: www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/lawreport/2017-08-22/8764004#transcript

  22. Victorian LA, Hansard 9 September 2008 p3306

  23. YouGovGalaxy Abortion Study of 1001 Queensland voters February 2018

  24. Coleman, P. et al. 2017, Women Who Suffered Emotionally from Abortion: A Qualitative Synthesis of Their Experiences. Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons Volume 22 Number 4 Winter 2017

  25. Children by Choice, 2017, Australian Abortion Statistics: www.childrenbychoice.org.au/factsandfigures/australian-abortion-statistics

  26. YouGovGalaxy Abortion Study of 1,001 Queensland voters February 2018

  27. Debbie Garratt in Cherish Life Queensland Newsletter, p. 3, vol. 46, issue1

  28. Lanfranchi, et al., 2013 in Cherish Life Queensland's submission to the Health, Communities, Disability Services and Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Committee on: The Health (Abortion Law Reform) Amendment Bill 2016, dated 6 October 2016. [PDF copy]